Toots & The Maytals


Toots and the Maytals cured my knee! Well almost. After years of gigging, my left knee has seen better days. But peace, love, a bit of dancing and one incredible voice took away this pain for a few hours.

Toots Hibbert emerges from the rafters dressed almost like a Rastafarian Pearly King. Styling a red, green and yellow sleeveless leather suit and sunglasses, with arms in the air towards a cheering crowd, he sets the feeling for the night. Feel-good music and feel-good vibes.

This is my second experience of a reggae show and the mood can only be described as infectious. This is brilliantly displayed by the old couple standing in front of me, who adopted what I like to call the broken robot. A kind of take on the Peter Crouch celebration however the only movement involved is arms at a 90 degree angle twisting side to side. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of doing ‘the reggay’ before Toots, but I feel like I picked it up pretty quickly.

For a man who I assume to have smoked a lot of ‘erb’ he still has a set of lungs like in the 70’s. He sings at one volume: full volume, as he pulls the microphone closer and further, almost like feedback for his voice. Husky and raw, he powers through favourites like ‘Pressure Drop’ and ‘Funky Kingston’.

The legend of the business was supported aptly by the infamous Maytals band, the bass player looking suspiciously like Snoop Dogg swaying side to side with the room as he laid down the beat for the magic Carl Harvey. I mean he played a solo with his teeth for fucks sake. I was expecting a lot from this gig but definitely not someone doing ‘the Hendrix’.

Mr Hibbert was like a proud father, walking around the stage pointing to each member frequently insisting that they “talk” to him. Similarly he would involve answer and response in every song. And I mean every song. I feel there is a reason why the 75 year old hasn’t written any music in 7 years… How many songs can you produce that end with “La La La” or “Reggae, Reggae”? It was almost cringey to the point where I felt like I was in a Year 6 disco, where DJ Dave would stop the Cha Cha Slide halfway through as he knows it’ll get the best response.

It’s hard to slate as everyone is having such a good time, especially the band. Towards the end I just needed a bit more depth. That’s when it came. Every reggae artist will always pay tribute to the great Bob Marley and Toots’ tribute almost had me in tears. To then fulfil his promise to the crowd that he would not leave until everyone was moving, he certainly achieved this with his closing renditions of ‘Monkey Man’ and ’54-46 That’s My Number’.

The night came to quite a peculiar end. After a night of light dancing Toots was handed half a dozen bottles of water. Then proceeded to throw them to the crowd like some reggae prophet; until finally pouring the final bottle on his face while screaming. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Academy however it was definitely a new experience.

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